Blue Jays place Santiago Espinal on the 10-day IL, recall Otto Lopez
By Eric Treuden
Per a news release, the Toronto Blue Jays have officially placed infielder Santiago Espinal on the 10-day injured list with right hamstring inflammation. In his place, utilityman extraordinaire Otto Lopez has been recalled from Triple-A Buffalo.
Espinal has been held out of games since he went 3-for-3 on Saturday against the Orioles. He will get some much needed rest to not only nurse his ailing hamstring, but perhaps take a mental break from the game. The 28-year-old has not gotten off to a great start this year, hitting a home run with seven runs batted in, a .205 average and an OPS+ of 53 in 25 games.
Entering the year, the 2022 All-Star was locked in a battle for the starting second base gig with Whit Merrifield and Cavan Biggio. Merrifield has gone on to be a decent contributor who can play some outfield corners as well, but Espinal and Biggio both have struggled mightily at the plate.
In Espinal's place, Lopez will be active for Monday evening's game against the Rays. He has received at least one plate appearance in each of the past two seasons, going a combined 6-for-10 with three runs driven in, a walk and a strikeout.
To kick off the 2023 season, the 24-year-old speedster hasn't been off to the best start at the plate, but has been turning things around as of late. In 36 games, he has a pair of doubles and a pair of triples with 19 runs scored, eight driven in, and a .533 OPS. He is a light-hitting utilityman who, like Merrifield, can play some outfield as well, so he should not have much trouble replacing Espinal's production in a big way for the Blue Jays.
Should Lopez have a solid stretch of play in the big leagues, it's worth wondering if Espinal (or, even better, Biggio) could be optioned to Triple-A instead of Lopez. Right now, it just feels like something has got to give for the Blue Jays, so perhaps a roster shake-up could be warranted.